Preliminaries — we have already visited the fact that the Christian idea of a “good but fallen (bad)” creation remains inherently contradictory — “Good and Plenty” (okay) “Good and Fruity” (okay), “Good and Fallen?” (Not so much).
Second, we should turn our attention to questions of truth and knowledge — quite important to the Christian outlook. The notion of “Correspondence” in truth theory indicates that for some theory’s central-claim set to be “true,” it must match the real world in some way or other.
This creates a special problem in the theory of knowledge (epistemology) for the Christian protagonist – does (s) he consider that the ideal world (from the beginning, before sin entered the world) forms that to which a theory must correspond to be considered true, or should it match instead the current “real World” in order to be thought a “true theory”?
Not only does this imply two competing notions of “ultimate reality,” (And thus two rival notions of correspondence), but it also seems to imply bi-theism, since the God of the ideal world clearly forbids (killing, sacrifice) what the God of the fallen world requires – for ethical behavior.
Third, the question of (doubting) the sufficiency of the light of nature (A challenge Christians and others are wont to levy against the Alexandrian Solomonic Deist [ASD hereafter] position yields some surprising problems for the challenger.
All forms of biblicism must acknowledge that at one point in the past, the light of nature was in fact sufficient to teach us what mankind is to believe concerning God and what duties God requires of humanity. Objections to the sufficiency of the light of nature then, all presume that a “fall of creation” transpired after the beginning, initiating a delapidated, cosmic condition.
But ASD types deny that such a fall ever took place. Thus, all such challenges beg the question in favor of a fall, which has at least two problems — the first is that inanimate objects (planets, rocks, etc) do not make moral decisions, have no moral obligations, and cannot intend any moral action. The “fall” of Adam and Eve — being a moral fall — cannot therefore have a like counterpart in the rest of the creation without invoking a significant kind of category mistake — the fallacy of moral stones.
Second, 1 Corinthians 15 and Philippians 2 seem to rebuff the notion of any such fall by comparing Christians in the resurrection unto glory with the stars of the heavens, which each differ one from another in glory. This comparison assumes that the stars are not fallen (As indeed there are not, since stars cannot make moral decisions).
The notion of the original state of Adam and Eve as one of “probationary innocence” suffers from this same category mistake, since stars cannot undergo a kind of “moral probationary period” to pass, or else fail, a kind of original moral test.
Further, when the ASD’s challenge that neither a heaven (in the NT sense) nor a hell, nor angels nor demons ever existed from the beginning, so that Genesis 1.31 (see the word, “everything”) teaches a denial of all these categories or creatures, some Christians would evade the force of the challenge by stipulating that hell represents a future condition rather than some kind of geographical location — which latter suggestion they may see as crassly naive, and the stuff of Tele-evangelism with extra-large hair.
Yet several problems attend this rejoinder — First, demons are treated as coterminous (exist at the same time as) with hell in the Bible, and they are represented in the Book of Job and elsewhere as having been in existence perhaps even before the flood (depending on one’s interpretation of the infamous “sons of God” passage).
Matthew 25 says that hell “was prepared for the devil and his angels.” Note the past tense of “was prepared.” Demons run amok in the NT, being cast out seemingly everywhere in Galilee by Jesus. They fear that “Jesus has come to torment them before the appointed time.” Torment them how? Like the rich beggar in hell, who would that his tongue be touched with a wet finger?
When we finally do get to the eschaton, hell seems to be thrown with hades into the lake of fire — destroyed? What does this mean? Hell is a future condition eliminated in the future? Is this lake to be taken literally — bringing us back to the geographical location hoax of tele-evangelism? (But now with a lake of fire?).
What the hell is the lake of fire? And how does it relate to hell — by abolition, and what then of its relationship to Hades — I do not believe a coherent set of answers can be offered to these interrogatives. And even if it could, it would by no means be agreed upon by a consensus of Christians.
The best way to manage difficult questions of religious and philosophical significance remains one in which we keep at least one eye on the Principle of Economy or “Ockham’s Razor.” This indicates we ought to prefer the more simple answers of the ASD proponent to those of their very complicated Christian-rejoinder counterparts.